I have a bone to pick with all of the banana “breads” of the world. Can we please stop lying to ourselves and acknowledge that banana bread is really just banana cake?? And that explains why when it’s good, it’s SO good. The only bread-like thing about it is that it’s even more delicious when toasted and slathered in butter. End rant. This banana cake is jam-packed with banana flavor, thanks to the four whole bananas inside it and a fifth banana chillin’ on top. It is rich and moist, due to the addition of labneh, which, if you’ve never baked with it before, is a real treat. You could, of course, substitute sour cream or whole-milk Greek yogurt in a pinch, but I encourage you to use labneh, if you can find it. This is a dump-and-stir kinda cake because that’s the kinda cake I’m most likely to bake.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9 × 5-inch loaf pan with butter and line it with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on the two longer sides.*
*This overhang will act as a sling later on and aid in removing the bread from the pan. The parchment replaces the need to flour the pan, and it’s quite a bit cleaner. No need to butter and flour the parchment.
- Brown the butter: Cut 10 tablespoons (1¼ sticks/142g) butter into about 5 pieces and place them in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Melting the butter in smaller pieces helps it brown more evenly. Cook, swirling the saucepan frequently, until the butter foams up, the foam dies down, and the milk solids (those little white flecks) turn deeply golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Let cool.
- Mix your dry ingredients: In a large bowl, whisk together 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (255g) flour, 1½ teaspoons (9g) baking soda, and 1½ teaspoons (4g) kosher salt.
Combine your wet ingredients:
✦ Peel 4 ripe bananas, break them into thirds, and place in a large bowl. Using a fork or potato masher, mash the bananas until they are a very thick, mostly homogeneous pulp.
✦ Whisk in 1⁄3 cup labneh, 2 eggs, 1 cup (220g) dark brown sugar, and 1 teaspoon (5g) vanilla until the mixture is homogeneous, about 1 minute.
✦ Whisk the cooled butter into the wet ingredients, using a spatula to scrape any bits that are stuck to the pan— those contain alllll the flavor; don’t waste any of it!
Combine and bake:
✦ Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. There may be a few floury patches remaining, but the batter should be mostly mixed.
✦ Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan, evening it out with the back of a spoon or a spatula. Peel 1 ripe banana and cut it in half lengthwise. Arrange both halves of the banana cut-sides up, spooning each other, on top of the batter. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon (11g) turbinado sugar (if using) evenly over the batter. This sugar will caramelize on the bananas in the oven, giving them a glossy brûléed effect.
✦ Bake the banana cake until deeply browned and a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, 1 hour 10 minutes to 1 hour 25 minutes. Let cool in the pan slightly before using the parchment overhang to remove it from the pan.
Reprinted from Cook This Book. Copyright © 2021 by Molly Baz. Photographs copyright © 2021 by PEDEN+MUNK. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House.